Jones To Rock Casbah Against War

Mick Jones, former vocalist and guitarist with The Clash, is set to rock the casbah again at a London guest slot with enigmatic Arab guitarist Rachid Taha.

Brian Eno is also billed for the November 27 show at The Astoria, a benefit to raise cash for the Stop the War Coalition.

Eno, an opponent of the invasion of Iraq and one of the coalition’s long-time supporters, has been known to be quite vocal on the subject.

“Do we want to continue to be proud little partners of a bunch of medieval rednecks or are we going to choose to do something about it?” he asked in a recent interview with The Independent.

The Stop The War Coalition is the main organised opposition to the government’s war policies.

It’s capable of putting hundreds of thousands of people onto the streets for protest marches – even the Ministry of Defence admits 80 percent of Brits are against the war in Iraq – but it needs cash to force an independent inquiry into the legality of the war.

It’s likely to take several thousands of pounds before the organisation can fulfill its ambition to force “Tony Blair and his cohorts” into a witness box. Legal aid has already been refused.

The choice of lineup, which also includes Nitin Sawhney, Imogen Heap and DVD DJ pioneers Eclectic Method, may look more than a little eclectic, but there are strong musical links between Eno and Taha.

They worked together on Taha’s Tékitoi album and performed together in Paris, St. Petersburg and Moscow.

“Rachid’s music is intrinsically political and topical, and very much the music of the Arab Street. I think he himself is a person who feels his role is to make both a cultural and political statement; he doesn’t separate the two things,” Eno said in an interview on TV’s “The South Bank Show.”

“A dirty, raucous, greasy rock ‘n’ roll,” was how The Times described it.

There’s also a link with Jones and The Clash: Taha covered The Clash’s “Rock The Casbah” on Tékitoi and the band referred to Carte de Sejour – Taha’s previous outfit – as “the Algerian Clash.”

Of all the joints in the world, to paraphrase Humphrey Bogart in “Casablanca,” Taha must have played a quite a few of them in the last 18 months.

Working through Alain Lahana’s Paris-based Le Rat de Villes agency, Taha’s 150 concerts (in more than 30 countries) have included visits to Jordan, Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, the U.S. and most of Europe.

— John Gammon